The Sun Also Sets At Hemingway's

Biana Arentz is the long-time owner of Hemingway's, the charming restaurant and bar nestled at the eastern foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It's one of the best places on the Bay to watch a sunset while munching terrific local seafood or sipping a tropical drink. In 1992, Biana and a partner purchased Hemingway's. This March, she bought out her partner's share.

Arentz had not planned to become a restaurateur. Her conservative parents vehemently disapproved of young ladies working in restaurants. During her college years at Georgetown University, she simply neglected to inform them she was a waitress at The Tombs, a popular spot in Georgetown. Junior year, hoping to surprise Arentz, her parents flew up from their home in Puerto Rico. En route to her dorm, they dropped by The Tombs for a quick bite. Arentz spotted them when they walked in. She did the mature thing---she fled through the back door.

Arentz's parents---her father was from Puerto Rico, her mother from Spain---had hoped she would follow the family tradition and become a doctor. Double majoring in biology and psychology, she graduated from Georgetown with a B.S. degree. She almost started med school before deciding against tradition---she preferred the impossibly long hours of restaurant management over the even longer hours of hospital residency. Luckily, her parents had mellowed.

Sitting on the enclosed deck that runs the length of Hemingway's, watching a stiff breeze whip up the whitecaps on the Bay, Arentz laughs at the memory of her youthful misadventures. Nearby, 7-month-old son Steve Jr. lies napping in his stroller. While the baby could be a clone of his blond, blue-eyed father, daughter Elizabeth, 4, subtly echoes her mother's features.

As Arentz lunches with her daughter, a steady stream of customers stops by her table and she rises to greet each one. Suddenly, there's a clatter on the lawn outside---a private helicopter has landed. Its passengers disgorge, hurrying to a table waiting inside. They're here for the succulent crab cakes. Arentz smiles and says, "By land, sea or air, our customers come for the food and the atmosphere."

Arentz was living in Fairfax, Va., when she first encountered Hemingway's. After college, she plunged into restaurant management, working her way up the corporate ladder at the Clyde's Restaurant Group, a successful regional chain. Temporarily tiring of the food service industry, she set up her own consulting business and had segued into aviation sales as a bilingual translator. An airport on Kent Island was a client. Along her daily route to the airport, Hemingway's began to pique her interest and reawakened her love of the restaurant business. She became a consultant for Hemingway's, eventually purchased it, and continued, for a while, to commute from Fairfax. Arentz and her husband now own a home on Kent Island and a vacation home in Ocean City.

She assumed, as do many people, that Hemingway's was named for the author, Ernest Hemingway. Not so. Local lore says Hemingway was the name of a fisherman who lived up Route 8. She never met that old seaman but, a longtime fan of The Old Man and The Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and other Ernest Hemingway novels, she decided to rededicate the restaurant to him.

Two years ago, Arentz and her husband purchased the century-old Chester River Inn. Located five minutes away from Hemingway's, it houses Decoys, a cozy restaurant downstairs and a catering facility upstairs. Shortly, the Arentzes plan to merge some operations. The Chester River Inn will host most of the catered events---weddings, galas and parties while Hemingway's will continue to be a restaurant venue.

Arentz met her husband, a Pittsburgh businessman, when he eased his 50-foot Hatteras into the marina adjoining the restaurant. Along with the restaurants, Steve Arentz also runs his own human resource development company. He jokingly claims he married Arentz so she would cover his bar tab---she rolls her eyes at the suggestion.

In addition to managing Hemingway's, Lola's Tropical Bar & Grill (a fun, casual restaurant downstairs at Hemingway's featuring great bands all summer), Chester River Inn and Decoys, Arentz is a member of the board of directors of Chesapeake College. Through her restaurants, she helps support the local arts community and a number of charities such as the Hospice of Queen Anne's County. She's also involved in Bay conservation projects.

At the end of the day when the sun dances on the bridge before it slides below the Bay, is Arentz toasting the sunset? "I'm hopefully at home tucking my children into bed---and loving every minute!"


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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